COVID-19: 21-year-old told to wrap his mother; family alleges negligence at Shatabdi Hospital

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 06:50 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

Officials blame contractual employees at hospital; enquiry instituted

Kunal Utekar and his mother Pallavi Utekar
Kunal Utekar and his mother Pallavi Utekar

The son of a COVID-19 victim from Borivli has alleged that Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivli, forced him to wrap the body of his mother, Pallavi Utekar, on July 2, himself and did not even provide him with safety equipment, the mandatory PPE kit. Recalling the ordeal, Kunal Utekar said, "I was waiting outside the hospital when a hospital staffer came and told me about my mother's demise. I was then told to come in to wrap her body in a plastic bag. When I asked for a PPE kit, they refused to give me one, so I had no choice but to walk into a COVID ward without any protective gear."

The 21-year-old had to call his cousin to the hospital for help in moving his mother's body from the ward to a stretcher. "My cousin and I along with two other hospital staffers brought the body till the ambulance," the son added.

His 50-year-old mother was admitted to hospital on June 30, and father, Pandurang Utekar, 55, was moved to an isolation centre in Borivli. Following the incident, one of Utekar's society members approached the office-bearers of a political party seeking action against the hospital.

Vaibhav Boarkar, a neighbour
Vaibhav Boarkar, a neighbour

Vaibhav Boarkar, 30, who lives in the same society, said, "I was shocked when I heard about the incident. This must have happened with others, too. Hence I suggested escalating the issue. Kunal and I approached Dinesh Salvi, MNS leader from Kandivli."

SOP for COVID deaths

According to rules, the body of a COVID victim is packed in a leak-proof plastic bag by two mortuary staffers and is supposed to be moved out of the hospital ward within 30 minutes of death. The bag has a transparent window so that kin can identify the patient. It is then transported to the crematorium or burial ground usually in a hearse or ambulance and is handled by BMC staff (wearing a PPE kit). Relatives of the patient are not supposed to touch the body at any point.

MNS leader Salvi said, "The entire act is inhuman on the part of the BMC. A man called inside the COVID-19 ward without safety equipment can lead to spreading of infection," Salvi said, demanding action.

The hospital administration has blamed the "goof-up" on contractual employees. Pramod Nagarkar, medical superintendent of Shatabdi hospital, said, "Two contractual employees are suspended and a detailed enquiry in on."

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